War Essay Research Paper The two poems

War Essay, Research Paper

The two poems ?Suicide in the Trenches? and ?Dulce Et Decorum Est? show resentment toward the war. The reason for this is because both poets Sigfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen had first hand experience in the war unlike their contemporaries Stephen Crane and Rupert Brooke who glorified war and the theme of patriotism. Since Crane?s and Brooke?s poems glorified war and encouraged young men to enroll in the army they would be popular in the war period and so were published before Sassoon?s and Owen’s works. As described by Richard Aldington in Life for Life Sake, ?It is only after a war that the experience of the individual survivor seems to have either interest or value. During a war civilians only think in terms of ?our side? and ?their side?.?. Sassoon and Owen are graphic in their imagery depicting suffering as they try to get the attention of the civilians during the war. Both poets use various poetic devices and techniques in their poems thus creating vivid images to show their fellow countrymen the true facts of the war.

?Suicide in the Trenches? and ?Dulce Et Decorum Est? deals with the struggle of soldiers in the war. The poems are graphic as they display suffering in ghastly detail. While ?Suicide in the Trenches? deals with the human condition of only one individual soldier, ?Dulce Et Decorum Est? portrays the mass killing of soldiers. Sigfried Sassoon starts off by introducing a common soldier and describing his life in the war. He then goes on to describe the difficulties of this soldier in the lines ?In winter trenches, cowed and glum,/With crumps and lice and lack of rum?(Sassoon 5-6). He states that the soldier does not have food and is infected by lice. The soldier is also suffering mentally and he cannot get rum to suppress his misery. This is what leads him to commit suicide. While Sassoon uses a soft tone and desires pity from the reader, Wilfred Owen has a harsh tone and fills his poem with imagery of physical suffering. In the first stanza he creates a situation in the battlefield where the fatigued soldiers are being killed by falling shells, while in the second stanza he creates a dreadful image of soldiers being killed by gas attacks. The third stanza deals with his own mental suffering because he gets repeated nightmares.

The poets use a number of techniques to create vivid scenarios of the war. They need to do so in order to get the attention as well as stir up the imagination of the civilians who have not experienced the war. Sassoon’s poem is more to the point and there are no metaphors or similes in his poem. However there is personification which is evident in the line ?In winter trenches, cowed and glum,?(Sassoon 5). In these lines it is the trenches that are being personified. They are given the human characteristics of being cowed and morose. Wilfred Owen on the other hand uses a lot of imagery in his poem. Owen uses similes on various occasions in the poem. He starts the poem of with a simile where he describes the walk of a soldiers carrying heavy supplies hiding from bullets to that of beggars on the streets covering themselves with sheets to protect themselves from the cold. This is evident when Owen states ?bent double, like old beggars under sacks?(Owen 1). Another simile is used in lines eleven and twelve when Owen states ?But someone still was yelling out and stumbling/And flound?ring like a man in fire or lime.?(Owen 11-12). In these lines he depicts an image of a soldier suffering from a gas attack. Owen compares the actions of the soldier to a man struggling after he might have fallen in lime or is being burnt in a fire. The third simile in the poem is ?His face hanging like a devil?s sick of sin?(Owen 20). Here Owen describes the look on the dead man?s face comparing it to a hopeless devil that no longer wants to indulge in sin. Besides being a similarity it could also be evidence of mood because it creates an atmosphere of hopelessness. Another device used by Owen is triple rhyme in line sixteen ?He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.?(Owen 16). Owen uses triple rhyme as a musical device and also increases the pessimistic mood of the poem.

The purpose of both poems is to prove to the civilians that war is not all glorious and it is not all ? sweet and becoming to die for ones country?. Both poems deal with this main theme in the last stanzas. In the poem ?Suicide in the Trenches?, Sassoon tells his fellow countrymen back home, that by cheering the soldiers in the parades they are not cheering them on to glory but rather to ?hell?. He wishes that the people would go home and pray for the soldiers instead of wasting their time at the parades. Owen?s frustration regarding false glorification can be proved in the last stanza when Owen states ?Sneak home and pray you?ll never know/ The hell where youth and laughter go? (Owen 11-12)

Wilfred Owen like his contemporary Sassoon informs the people that if they could imagine the conditions in which the war was fought they would not think that the war was glorious. Owen tells the civilians to stop painting false images of glory in the minds of young men by telling them ?the old lie Dulce et decorum est/ Pro patria mori.? (Owen 27-28).

Although the two poems are of different length, one twelve lines and the other twenty-eight lines, they both follow a common pattern. They start off by creating a typical war front scenario. They then narrowing the war front anguish down to their own suffering or the suffering of one particular individual. And finally they end of by pleading the people to really reflect about war and its horrific reality. They want the people to lose their hunger for glory and instead turn humble and pray for the soldiers? safety and the end of the war.


wilfred sasson


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